Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cod Fishcakes

I never understood the appeal of fishcakes. Wikipedia suggests that the fish cake, as the British know it, came about as a means for astute housewives to make the most of leftover fish and potatoes. So as I snubbed them for the umpteenth time at the company canteen in favour of the steak pie on Fish Friday, I wondered to myself as to why catering would offer them in the first place. Who would want to deliberately eat leftovers?

However, as I wandered through Sainsbury's later looking for something to pop into the oven while I showered, I came across the Basics Breaded Cod Fishcakes. I realised that I was getting bored of most of the other things that I usually have on weekdays, namely breaded chicken, fish fingers and pizzas, and so decided to give these a go.

The fishcakes are smaller than the ones offered in Sainsbury's own-brand fresh and frozen ranges; you would probably need 2-3 of these to make a meal. Don't be fooled by the labelling - 53% of 66% (that's the amount of cod that goes into the fishcake, ie. 53% of the fishcake that makes up 66% of the total) is somewhere around 34% which means that this is more carbohydrate than protein.

The fishcakes were pleasant, although the texture leaves much to be desired, with very few reminders of flaky fish and more of creamed potato. To be honest, I would rather have the fish fingers, which are cheaper, and yet have more fish per unit weight.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Cod Fishcakes£1.3910, 500g+£1.61 for 2, 300gIncludes bacon,slightly higher cod content

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Taste Test: Bourbon Creams

A while ago I had the chance to talk to two people who worked in the groceries sector. Through our conversations they got to know that I ran this blog and asked me certain queries about their own value line, specifically my attitude towards it, so that they could understand what their consumers want. I noted that while most people I know treated value lines as a way to reduce expenditure on frequently used essential items, I have noticed that there is another demographic distinct from this - that of university student societies and clubs.

Some memories came back of eating Sainsbury's Basics crisps and other such tidbits while attending various meetings held by the societies I participated in. A thought occurred to me if what they were doing was just a way to stretch out of extreme necessity the club's budget for as long as it can hold out, or if they were really on to something.

Where I work now, it is customary for a member of the team to bring something to snack on for our weekly team meetings. I thought that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to bring along two lines of Sainsbury's Bourbon Creams, one Basics, one own-brand, and arrange for a blind taste test. With that in mind, I got to the office early that morning, piled the biscuits into two separate plates and set them before my colleagues to sample from. Surprisingly it was difficult to tell them apart, as they tasted the same. That is, until somebody spotted a visual difference in the biscuits themselves.

The photograph you see below is a poor attempt at showing that difference. The Sainsbury's Basics Bourbon Cream on the left has less chocolate cream compared to the regular own-brand one on the right. To be honest, as noted above, none of us at the workplace could tell the difference, so considering the savings of almost 50%, if you are buying biscuits in bulk for the next gathering of any sort, do give the Bourbon Creams a try.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Bourbon Creams£0.45400g0.38Thicker chocolate filling.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cashew-crusted Salmon

As I start to actively explore other areas of the Sainsbury's Basics range that I have not gotten round to reviewing, I noticed that there is a lack of coverage on fish. Given that my flatmate is fond of salmon, I decided that I should write up on the salmon fillets.

Unlike most of the other cheaper fish options available under Sainsbury's Basics, which are usually available as proper cuts, the Basics Scottish Salmon Fillets are off-cuts - in other words, whatever happens to be left of the fish after fillets have been cut from it for Sainsbury's own-brand range, or for that matter, other brands that the supplier happens to cater to. If you are lucky though, you might get a healthy sized steak - the pack shown in the photo above contains one small chunk, right, and a whole fillet, left and covered by the label. The sizes of the cuts I got in the pack can be seen later on.

As I am also clearing down my cupboard in preparation for my holiday out of town I searched on the Internet for recipes that use both cashew nuts and salmon. I've seen salmon prepared with almonds before, so I reasoned that cashews would not be too radical a departure from normal preparations. As it turns out, not only does the blogging community generally approve of my idea, the first page of hits on Google suggest a recipe which also uses Parmesan and Basil, ingredients I can easily substitute with Basics grated hard cheese and herb mix, which ties in nicely with clearing as much as I can.

The preparation appears straightforward enough. Blend in a food processor,or grind manually, the following things to make your crumb coating: Basics dried mixed herbs, cashew nuts, grated hard cheese, garlic cloves, and a bit of olive oil. Use the resulting mixture to coat the top of the salmon, placed skin down.

Bake at 210 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.

Even though the coating looks fairly innocuous, it is packed with nutrition, containing cheese and nuts, both high in protein and fat. This might be a filling alternative to the usual breadcrumb mixture that you might use to coat oily fish, though use of this to coat other meats is as yet unproven. From experience I would not recommend using this to coat white fish given its lighter taste.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Scottish Salmon Fillets£10.98/kgby weight+£5.69/kg, +£2.06/kg for wild salmonGuaranteed boneless fish, more regular cuts.
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